Cook makes quick impression on Pistons: ‘He’s a guy you want in your program’

Tyler Cook
Tyler Cook has made an impression on Dwane Casey and the Pistons, who signed him to a second 10-day contract this week
Chris Schwegler (NBAE/Getty)
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

When Troy Weaver canvasses the room next week as the Pistons determine how to proceed once Tyler Cook’s second 10-day contract expires, he probably can skip a solicitation of Dwane Casey’s perspective.

After Casey expounded at significant length about a guy on a 10-day contract following another practice with less than two months left in the season, he concluded his soliloquy Tuesday with this: “I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m high on Tyler Cook.”

Cook, 23, went undrafted in 2019 after three years as a mainstay at Iowa, averaging 14.5 points and 7.6 rebounds as a junior before leaving for a stab at pro basketball. He spent most of last season in the G League with the Oklahoma City Blue but had NBA stints with both Cleveland and Denver. After a standout turn last month in the G League bubble, where Cook averaged 20.8 points and 9.6 rebounds, he signed a 10-day contract with Brooklyn and then landed with the Pistons.

Casey’s played him more than most 10-day contract guys get used, appearing in six games and for 11 minutes a game with averages of 2.7 points and 3.5 rebounds. Casey loves his physical nature and his tenacity.

“He’s a guy you want in your program because he sets the tone,” Casey said. “When you’re going out there against him and (Hamidou) Diallo, you know you’ve got a street fight on your hands. You need a couple of those guys that can really lock down and guard.”

A high school teammate of Boston’s Jayson Tatum and from the same St. Louis powerhouse program, Chaminade Prep, that produced Bradley Beal, Cook, 6-foot-8, was ranked the No. 63 consensus recruit in the high school class of 2016 and chose Iowa over Kansas, Michigan, Florida and many others, honored as a second-team all-Big Ten pick as a junior.

For a player who came to the NBA undrafted and has yet to land a guaranteed contract, Cook is knocking on the door ahead of schedule and making the most of his opportunity with the Pistons despite the pressure of trying to make an impression while the clock ticks on 10-day deals.

“It can be tough. That’s why I’ve been focused on trying to come in and make an impact any way I can,” said Cook, who spent a solid 40 minutes after Monday’s win over Toronto working on his game with coaches – and a consultation with Weaver – as work crews bustled around him. “I don’t want to come in and break chemistry or be disruptive. I just try to come in and play hard and do what the coaches ask me to do.”

Mason Plumlee and Jerami Grant were teammates briefly during Cook’s first NBA stop in Denver early in the 2019-20 season, so they’ve helped his transition to the Pistons. He made a quick impression on Casey with his aptitude and toughness, playing at least eight minutes and as many as 16 in six consecutive games.

“He’s picked up everything we’ve done and it’s one reason he’s ahead of the curve,” Casey said. “You feel comfortable putting him in the game and playing him.

“He’s an interesting guy. I don’t know what we can do with him contractually, but I’d love to keep him around. He gives you everything. He’s smart. He picks up stuff quick, he’s physical, he’s athletic. Still working on the shooting piece, but everything else he brings to the table and then some.”

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